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F355 Challenge: Passione Rossa (Dreamcast)

87
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Forever Sport (26)
Written on  :  Aug 14, 2006
Platform  :  Dreamcast
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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Summary

Excellent Driving Simulation. Ahead of its time: For true enthusiasts only.

The Good

Today I felt like gaming again.. after not doing so in almost a year. I got the old DC out and started it up. I looked thru my disc binder, and saw a lot of titles that excited me. There was Crazy Taxi, Soul Calibur, Hydro Thunder, Rayman 2, Mr. Driller, etc... However my first choice of game I couldn't wait to see and hear again was Ferarri F355 Challenge, because apparently, that game REALLY leaves an impression. My mind tells me I love Bust a Move, Initial D, Jet Set Radio, Metal Slug, Shenmue, and a lot of others.. though a few years after not playing them I can't fully seem to remember why. However, my mind tells me I like F355 Challenge, and my body remembers. It remembers the sound and vibration of the loud high pitched, bassy roar of that refined 3.5L v8 reving up to the limiter at 9,000 rpms. It remembers the frustration of locking up the brakes and hearing the tires squeel themselves into the dirt. It remembers the deep concentration required to navigate thru the first chicane followed by a sharp left, corner # 5 on Suzuka without letting the 380bhp do what it wants to do.. slide the rear out and drift; continuously. It remembers the real-time strategy of deciding between easing up a bit and playing it safe, staying in 3rd or 4th place, or pushing it to the limit and running the high-risk of over-cooking it to go for glory. My body remembers the sweet sweet satisfaction of having a race where everything seems to fall into the right place. It also remembers the tens of times of obtaining a particular skill and the consequent satisfaction of learning something ever so simple and small, like delicate throttle control, or smooth line taking. My body remembers it all. But most of all my body remembers the collisions. The frequent, almost constant smashing of the front end into a barrier on Long Beach, or the frustratingly slippery run-off areas of the GT tracks. This game is not easy. If you decide to start playing, get ready for some hard work.

This game has some issues, but they will infact help to teach you. Once you have obtained a confident level, move on to the PS2 version, (just for a quick stop to check the new views and options) followed by .. most importantly.. the arcade version. (available at Dave & Busters) That is really something special. 8-) 6-Speed Manual Transmission is quite a nice touch too.

*Make sure to use your Dreamcast JUMP PACK (rumble-pack) for this game, and appreciate the spectacular L & R sticks the DC has. On Ps2.. while the Logitech GT3 steering wheel is one thing.. the standard controller is quite another. :-(

The Bad

If there was ever a game that tested your restraint, THIS IS IT.

Imagine being taken to a world-class track, (emptied just for you), then put in a sexy, brand new, bright red, Ferrari F355, (with a v8 making 380 horsepower), and told the rules of death do not apply. What would you do? You wouldn't go slow and steady!! Would you!? now...

Take that dilemma, and add to it a few more facts that complicate things:

1) This car has one addictive acceleration "experience" .. it is pure ecstasy.

2) This car is a Ferrari. If you have ever sit in one you will know.. the seating position and visibility is not that of a convenient hatch-back or small mini-van. The seat is basically on the ground, (which it must be because of the super low roof required to obtain super-car performance). The dash-board is in the normal spot though. This makes the view also have a steep "learning" curve. While the game does slightly improve the cockpit view (over the real-life counter-part) it still takes quite a bit of getting used to.

3) Combine the difficult view with the fact the car has ultra low ground-clearance and has a very stiff independent suspension. Sensing roll, whether lateral or vertical is very difficult for at least the first ten-some hours. The car does not have any obvious reactions even during hard braking. This is probably the very first obstacle a beginner should focus on overcoming - learning to perceive delicate changes in the cars motion (resulting in drastic changes in tire traction). If you can get past that, you're well on your way to starting to enjoy this form of torture.

The Bottom Line

A complex showcase for modern videogame design, and a benchmark for sports simulation. Not to be played for "fun" .. this was not made to create quick emotions of joy. This is a creation requiring strong faith in thyself and deep devotion to the cause of improving numerous skills to ultimately be .. the winner. The epitome of "love is pain."

Note* This is no money making machine like Forza or Gran Turismo. There aren't 300 cars, 100 songs, 50 tracks, and 4 views in this game. There are several tracks, several songs, ONE car, and ONE view. F355 doesn't have the revolutionary look and feel it did when it was just released. The graphics don't make you feel like you are on Long Beach anymore. However the visuals and sound still hold up to this day, and the gameplay more than still lays the beat down on the rest of the competition. When the majority was playing Tekken on Playstation, the hardcore were mastering Virtua Fighter 2 on Sega Saturn. When the majority was still playing Tetris on their Gameboy Pockets, the hardcore were already beating Bust-a-Move 2 on Neo Geo. When the majority wastes their money on Project Gotham 3, YOU - PLAY - F355 Challenge.